With wins, Bulls get to rest
In sticking with a successful theme, Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro canceled Tuesday's scheduled practice in San Antonio.
This made three straight days off when the Bulls did nothing. So far, the extra rest has paid off with 3 straight surprising road wins over Phoenix, Houston and the Spurs.
Guard Derrick Rose scored 27 points against San Antonio despite skipping the morning shootaround. Rose felt better Tuesday and should be fine by the time the Bulls tip off against Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson both are suffering from plantar fasciitis but are likely to play against the Thunder.
Guard Devin Brown, acquired from New Orleans for center Aaron Gray on Monday, is expected to join the team at Wednesday's shootaround in Oklahoma City and should be in uniform against the Thunder, assuming both players involved in the trade pass physicals.
What's amazing about the Bulls' winning streak is they've shot better than 50 percent from the field in all three games after starting this road trip with losses to the Warriors and the Clippers.
"We didn't start it off right. We could easily have lost the next three games," Luol Deng said after the game, according to nba.com. "But we stuck with it. It shows a lot about our team."
Noah plays through pain: During the circus road trip in November, the Bulls had trouble matching up inside without Tyrus Thomas, who was sidelined with a broken arm.
The Bulls faced better teams on the circus trip, such as the Lakers, Denver and a full-strength Portland squad. But it has been encouraging to see others step up while Joakim Noah is battling plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
Noah sat out Saturday's win over Houston, and Brad Miller scored 25 points in his place. Noah was limited to 24 minutes against the Spurs on Monday but scored the game's final 5 points in a 98-93 victory.
After the game, Noah said a different tape job made his foot feel better.
"I knew he was going to play a little bit," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "I just didn't know if he was going to play five minutes or 10 or 15. It was going to depend on how he felt.
"He's in some pain. Luckily we have a day in between games, no back-to-backs, so hopefully that will help."
Vinny listens to Pop: The Bulls swept the two-game series against San Antonio this season, a nice accomplishment for coach Vinny Del Negro. He spent most of his playing career with the Spurs and considers Gregg Popovich one of his coaching mentors.
When Monday's game ended, Popovich walked down the sideline to congratulate Del Negro as the final seconds ticked down. A postgame coaching handshake actually is rare in the NBA. Usually, there's only a wave unless the two teams cross paths on the way to the locker rooms.
"We always talk. We're always talking, whether it's on the phone or before or after the game," Del Negro said. "Whenever you can get around experienced people like that, that have coached you and you believe in and have been so successful, you try to pick their brains as much as you can.
"I think it's a smart thing to do, and Pop's been very generous of his time and his support."